Celebrating 50 years of Road Safety Improvements
from the Dorman Smith TrafiLAMP to the ConeLITE Synchro
24 October 2016 14:43:21

Some things seem like they have been around for ever, yet are only just reaching the half century milestone in 2016. For example, BBC 2 started broadcasting in 1966 under the leadership of the latest bright young thing in television, David Attenborough. The first credit card in the UK was issued by Barclays and the event that triggered a thousand pub quiz questions occurred, when Pickles the dog found the stolen World Cup trophy in a London Garden.


Transport links across the UK were rapidly improving with the introduction by British Rail of their first full electric passenger train service. Significant growth of the Motorway Network took place in the mid-1960s with further expansion of the M1 and M6, the opening of the first section of the M74 in Scotland and journey times slashed between England and Wales following the completion of the Severn Road Bridge.


A noteworthy event in the field of roadworker safety, the battery powered roadworks lamp also hits 50 this year following their introduction by Dorman and Smith Ltd in 1966.  Although the Dorman and Smith TrafiLAMP was slightly more expensive to buy than the traditional paraffin lamp, customers soon realised the savings that could be made on long term maintenance and consumables. A very important factor in the move to replace paraffin lamps with the TrafiLAMP was their reliability and subsequent improvement in road safety. The lamps didn’t blow out or cause a fire hazard and had no reliance on fossil fuel supplies.


The deteriorating situation in world oil markets in the 1970s prompted the introduction of the metal bodied TrafiLAMP ‘E’ in response to the severe shortage of plastics caused by embargoes and conflict in the Middle East. Although the pressed steel construction was initially developed as a stopgap to get around these shortages, it soon became one of the product’s unique selling points. The unit’s robust construction and reliability in the harshest of environments meant that the lamp proved extremely popular and was still in production over 30 years after its introduction.


In the 1980s Dorman introduced the first LED products onto the UK railway which were initially based upon their roadlamp technology. The innovation in the traffic environment didn’t end though and following the introduction of Xenon and LED lit lamps and vehicle beacons, 1994 saw the introduction of the ubiquitous ConeLITE. Nearly 2 million ConeLITEs have been sold since their introduction and this is mainly down to the simple design which allows easy maintenance and innovative features such as automatic switching when the lamp is dropped onto the cone that allows the lamp to automatically light up at dusk or in low ambient light levels and be in standby mode during the day to increase battery life.


Synchronised lamps were first introduced in the UK by Dorman in 2006 with the SynchroGUIDE warning light system combined the latest in LED lamp and lens technology with intelligent synchronisation. This enables up to 256 synchronised lamps to flash in sequence giving the impression of a single light source travelling along the row. There have been studies which show that the use of synchronised lamps encourages drivers to move out of the closure affected lane much earlier and this reduces taper strikes which are a significant cause of death and serious injury amongst roadworkers.


Unipart Dorman continues to work closely with customers in the traffic arena to develop innovative approaches to increasing roadworker safety and the Synchronised version of the ConeLITE is now being adopted across the world, notably in North America where a number of academic institutions have published studies on their effectiveness in preventing death and injury to workers.  Work is in progress on embedding a data capability into roadlamps which will allow smart asset management to be used at roadworks to deliver increased safety for the roadworker and allow planners to accurately model the works and reduce delays by providing better information to road users.   


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Graham Scott

Product Manager
I am the Product Manager at Unipart Dorman providing technical and sales support across the Rail, Traffic and New Product Development areas of the business. In my spare time I write Flash Fiction and I also volunteer at a local community creative writing group and for various transport heritage groups.
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